Options limited for spring break child care | SteamboatToday.com

Options limited for spring break child care

— Trish Campagna has three school-aged children, a full-time job and not many options for child care.

One child is 10, her twins are 9 and she wants them to be involved in some activity this week while Steamboat Springs schools are on spring break.

“I had no other options,” she said Thursday morning while dropping off her children at the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Services’ “School Days Off” program. “If they’d gotten sick, I would have had to take time off work and lose a day’s pay.”

While much of town left for spring break this week, there are some families who did not go on vacation and are challenged with finding somewhere for their children to go because both parents work full time.

The only options are the School Days Off program, the Kaleidoscope art program, day-care programs that accept drop-ins, baby-sitters and private day care.

“I think there needs to be a lot more options for child care,” said Jennifer Rose, who runs the School Days Off program.

Rose is full this week, with 30 to 40 children from kindergarten to fifth grade getting dropped off at the Emerald City center daily. She said she got calls from parents mid-week wondering if there was any room. The program is $20 and children must bring their lunches, although they do get two snacks. Children can be dropped off as early as 7:45 a.m. and picked up as late as 5:45 p.m.

They have activities planned each day and although it is not day care, Rose said she knows that, for some parents, it’s a place for their kids to go when they have to work. Rose also said the older children need direction and parents do not want them just hanging out this week.

L.D Shoffner said he and his wife had no other option this week for their son, Max, who is in first grade. His son loves attending the School Days Off program, however.

“He’s too old for Laurel Street, which is where he was before, and there’s really nowhere else to drop them off,” Shoffner said.

Local day-care centers are slow this week, because of families going away, and some said the requests for drop-ins is low. Diane Carter of Kinderhaus said they have 80 percent of their kids in school and had no requests for drop-ins this week. Hillary Ackerman of First Tracks said they will take drop-ins if they attended the center and they have several children this week.

The Steamboat Springs Arts Council’s Kaleidoscope art program ran from 1 to 5 p.m. through Thursday, with students completing art projects. The Kaleidoscope program has been going on for about six years, Peggy Warren said, although this week is slower than during other breaks. This program was $20 per session.

Parents are also faced with paying for child care. Janine Clagett has a flexible work schedule and said that while the parks and rec program is extremely inexpensive, it’s a wash financially for her to send her two children, who are 6 and 8.

“It’s hardly worth putting them in the program and going to work,” she said.

Clagett admitted that she is lucky, because she works for her husband at The West Condominiums and they can do some creative schedule juggling. She took time off this week and put her kids in the School Days Off program for one day.

“I do wonder what happens to other parents,” she said.

Clagett said there is the same problem in the summertime. She applauded the $5 after-school program price tag, but said summertime camps can get expensive.

Campagna was spending $300 per week on child care, although she did get some assistance.

Students at the parks and rec program said they like attending the program, with some coming for a few years.

“It’s fun being here, because it’s like a home,” 7-year-old Alissa Kenfield said.

“We always do fun activities that we all like,” 7-year-old Laura Gritz added.

If they were not here, they would be helping at their parents’ offices, they said.

Campagna, with three children in the program, said that, thankfully they like it, adding that it takes some of the stress off her.

“My kids didn’t want me to pick them up much before 5 p.m.,” she said.

— To reach Jennifer Bartlett call 871-4204 or e-mail jbartlett@amigo.net

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